The image of pot and pot users in society.

Let me start by saying I fully support the complete legalization of pot in the US, for adults. The war on drugs has been a huge waste of money and lives, etc. What I am interested in here is the image marijuana has in the consciousness of Americans.

Most of us have seen images from “Reefer Madness”. The movie “I love you, Alice B Toklas” was on the other night and there is a scene where some normal folks eat pot brownies and go into a kind of “Reefer Madness” frenzy. When I see news stories about pot in Colorado, they always show scruffy young men, furtively exchanging items on the street, the very image of the drug dealers we have been taught to hate and fear. The movies we saw in school back in the 70’s made pot out to be as bad or worse that heroin and coke. Our educational system has attempted to instill a fear of pot into all of us and the media has built upon the negative image, perhaps more so than any other drug.

I’ve tried the drug (gasp) and come to the conclusion that it isn’t so dangerous after all. Heck, if it were legal I might well become a pot snob, much like the rampant beer snobbery I enjoy now. That is just me though. Many people haven’t ever tried it or have tried it and it freaked them out, as it can do for first time users.

So, we have built this image of pot and pot users over decades, to the point that a realistic image of who is using it and what it does is lost in the glare of false information. A normal, non-pot user might well believe that the drug is extremely dangerous and that crazed young men might soon be roaming the streets of Denver. I think the biggest obstacle to legalization is not calcified politicians but the extreme image that most people have of the drug and I don’t see that image changing substantially.

So how is this all going to play out as the drug becomes more legal? How much of the population is going to be living in actual fear as it becomes more and more prevalent? It seems to me to be very important to change that image, not just to aide legalization but to assuage the fears of non-users who have been told over and over to run away in terror. I’m not seeing that anywhere.

Nah, I think most non-pot users nowadays think less of “Reefer Madness” and more of Cheech & Chong (or Harold and Kumar, or Jay and Silent Bob, or Afroman (of “Because I Got High”) fame), or of the stoners they knew in high school.

I.e. the stereotype of the pot user is not someone who’s dangerous and crazed, but the lazy, do-nothing, burn-out underachiever.

I think it would be helpful for the variety of cannabis strengths to be better understood by the general public. In the same manner that ‘Drugs’ is a uselessly broad blanket term, so is ‘weed’ or [insert preferred term].

I gladly smoke a small amount of cannabis resin and drink beer, culminating in excellent low-fuss euphoria. But the extreme skunk varieties at the other end of the scale are a lot less easy-going (ironically).

The booze industry caters for every niche market from the white-wine-spritzer to to the hard-boiled drinker - it would be good to acknowledge that one can smoke pot without being a complete pot-head.

I disagree with the OP. I think the fact that a majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana indicates more and more people understand that pot doesn’t turn you into a drug-crazed maniac. Even the stereotype of the Cheech & Chong burnout is falling by the wayside. A lot of people who use pot recreationally have professional careers and are fully functioning members of society - they just don’t talk about it for obvious reasons.

There are always going to be people who see pot as evil and a gateway into harder drugs, but those people are becoming fewer and far between IMO.

I agree with this. I’ve had people offer me some weed that they say will “knock me on my ass”. I always say NO to weed that strong. It doesn’t chill me out into a coma; it makes my heart race and my thoughts go 100 mph, usually down ill-advised rabbit holes of paranoia.

I wish in discussions about pot there’d be more of a middle ground between “it’s completely harmless!” and “it’s bad for you and society as a whole!” Can we not allow for some complexity, and admit that there can be negative side effects, but that overall it doesn’t need to be illegal? (Especially considering it’s not physically addictive.)

I believe that a relatively small (perhaps staggeringly small) minority will hyper themselves into a frenzy and freak right the fuck out with exactly the fears that the OP suggested. They will get lots of screen time with the talking heads at the “news” stations and we will see reports about the rampant fear that’s sweeping the nation.

Which makes for a better “news” story: “Yeah, I guess it’s ok with me. Not really my thing, but I have friends who smoke and they’re all ok, I guess, so, whatever,” or “(insert raging anti-pot hysteria du jour here)”?

Ironically enough, the people who are going to be most vocal against it would probably benefit from just lighting up and chilling out, but you know that’s not gonna happen… in public.

There is a cannabis closet that keeps most people from seeing responsible marijuana use. Having smoked with professionals (mostly lawyers, including judges and prosecutors) you see a different side of pot culture.

Point them towards the last three Presidents of the United States. There’s tens of millions of pot smokers that fit no stereotype at all.

I’m glad this is turning around. I was pretty against weed after elementary- and middle-school D.A.R.E. indoctrination. And the skateboarding burnouts I knew in high school. But as I grew up, I met successful college students and professionals with careers who smoked on weekends. I eventually did it myself, while holding down a full-time job, and it just ain’t all that bad. Alcohol makes me into a more obnoxious person than weed ever could.

Extreme stereotypes get the attention. Most of us who toked in the 70s didn’t turn out like Cheech and Chong characters. Me? I just sort of stopped smoking it in the 80s. A lot of us stopped when children came into the picture.

Oh, and the movie “Reefer Madness” was always considered a comedy film in the 60s and after that. Unless you were Red Forman or of Red’s generation maybe.

For what it’s worth, my mother is terrified, terrified, that pot legalization will lead to the roads being filled with stoners who have no idea where they are or what they’re doing, and putting lives (her own included) in jeopardy.

Out of curiosity, why? Plenty of dads I know continue to brink beer despite young’uns in the house, but have given up the loco weed because of teh kidz. WTF, are they afraid they’re going to space out and try to dry Baby in the microwave or something?

The only thing about that scenario that frightens me is getting stuck behind them as they drive under the speed limit.

Which, ironically, is what will happen to you if you get stuck behind my mother. Go figure.

I don’t have kids myself, so I can’t speak from experience. Maybe once you become a parent, the parental genes kick in and you want to make sure there are oreos available for your children to eat.

That reminds me. At what stage of pregnancy/infancy do moms grow those eyes in the backs of their heads?

This is what I’m talking about. My mom (90 years old next week!) is also worried about stoners roaming the streets, breaking into homes to steal money for their drug habit. Of course, mom still drives and can’t understand why we don’t think it’s a good idea. She just keeps her speed 10 or 15 MPH under the limit and then she can’t run into anything, right? Oddly like stoner logic.

An elderly neighbor used to call the police when she saw my son and friends skateboarding in the cul-de-sac. They exactly fit the image of drug addicts that we have been taught.

While the “roads being filled with…” bit is hyperbolic, the underlying fear has a factual basis:

In the interest of full disclosure (and added complexity), “physically addictive” is a bit of a red herring. Addiction (better term “dependence”) does not require any physical aspect. It can be completely mental and/or emotional. That doesn’t make one less “addicted”. In fact, some 9% of people who try marjuana become dependent on the drug:

All that said, I really don’t have a dog in this fight one way or the other. I tried weed, didn’t like it, don’t use it. OTOH, I tried beer, didn’t like it, don’t use it but it’s completely legal. I’d like to see more study done on the extended effects on coordination before saying I support unlimited legalization.

Secondhand smoke. And CPS tends to frown on marijuana use.

My main quarrel with pot is the reaction it elicits whenever it’s mentioned on (pick a show). Normal adults suddenly revert to being 14 years old, applauding and woo-hooing for all they’re worth. It’s childish and annoying. It’s also addictive in the same fashion that alcohol is addictive. If you need a crutch in life, substance abuse is substance abuse. The advantage to pot is that it doesn’t destroy your liver.

We just found out that a state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispenser is opening right around the corner from us. The guy said that he’s been operating “in secret” to wangle a permit. Yeah, that’s above-board. To believe that this facility won’t attract all manner of low-lifes to our neighborhood is naive. The November ballot will contain an initiative to legalize pot in Oregon, which would mean that this store would instantly change to a retail outlet. I’m thinking of starting a meth lab in my garage.

I’d be interested to read the transcript of that hearing.

“Your Honor, I move to … I move … wait a minute – I’m not moving! Oh, wait … now I am.”

“DENIED! On the grounds that YOU are too uptight. I sentence you to another hit.”